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“ French Consul, was justified by Talleyrand's. What " would the house think of a minister, who should “ make such a declaration? But, my lords, the same
system of misrepresentation has been pursued with “ respect to the language of that reply. Talleyrand, “ in his note, dated the 14th. of January last, says ''assailed on all sides the republic could not but extend
universally the efforts of her defence. This has not “ the smallest resemblance to the proposition (which
was stated to be so infamous on the part of France,) o that France claimed a right to attack every country, “ if she was attacked by any other. Here there is an“ other instance of palpable misrepresentation; the “ tendency of which is, to 'excite hatred and animosity s between two nations, which ought to live at peace s with each other."
Here, my Lord, there rushes on the mind matter to fill a volume : but I will keep my word: I will touch only on the heads of this matter: my readers will supply to themselves what I omit. That the inistranslations, and the perversions of the language of France, were intentional, there is too much ground for belief; because so to act, was in unison with the principles of men, designing the overthrow of our constitution, as well as with the temper they afterwards manifested in their intemperate pursuit of that object. In this part of the drama, a secretary of state is the inmediate performer, but our business is not now with the subordinate characters in the piece, but with the principal; with him who was not only master-actor, but manager; nor indeed mere master-actor and manager only, but likewise, in the tragic department, a loo frequent author, and the author of highest reputation. On Mr. Pitt then, as presiding minister, must rest the principal weight of responsibility.
On the mediation solicited by the French government, and on the rejection of that application, what are we to think? Let us, my Lord, look back to the then condition of France ; and let us also re-call to our recollection, the then situation of England. France, at that time, after a short season of uncommon anxiety, and of agitation, bordering on general convulsion, had so far happily steered the course of regeneration, as to have succeeded in putting down, without bloodshed, the despotic part of her monarchy, and to have aboJished a 'subservient and favoured aristocracy with which, on account of the immensity of its numbers and its wealth, it was inipossible in the first instance to compromise, by conceding to it, as in England, an entire branch of the legislature. The people were free, and the king was upon his throne. But such a new-born freedom required to be fed with the milk of peace, and to be' nursed until it could go alone by some guardian state of congenial mind, and of sufficient power. Whither then could France turn her eyes except to England?-Except to that country from which Holland, in a predicament still more critical found protection, and to which she was indebted for the uprearing and the consolidating of her republic?
On the first symptom of an hostility on the part of Austria, the true meaning of which could not be misunderstood by France, and the consequences of which to her infant freedom she then dreaded, and has since in fact experienced, hither w see came her ambassa. dors to implore protection. Conscious of her weakness, even that protection she dare not ask without first approaching in secret, without a numerous embassy of learned men, who might mix with the literati here, in. order to multiply the hopes of finding a favourable passport to the foot of the throne. The leading ambassador was fortunate enough to find among our English philosopers, a nobleman, closely connected with two 'principal ministers, but a nobleman, whose more estimable distinctions are his simplicity of manpers
and his probity, his devotion to liberty, his love of peace, his inventive genius, and his indefatigable labours in promoting the happiness of his country, and the good of mankind.
To him the French ambassadors, encouraged by the frank declaration of his own sentiments, first make known their diplomatic character and the object of their mission; in him they find the sincerest desire of laying the foundation of lasting peace and amity between the two nations; and by him the matter is im. mediately imparted to his relation, a secretary of state and cabinet counsellor, as the regular official channel of such a communication to the presiding minister, and to the cabinet. - Had ever English statesman such an opportunity of at once cultivating the blessings of peace, and of raising his country to pre-eminence and to glory? Had ever English statesman such means of acquiring over France an influence beneficial to England? or of converting the disposition to annoy his country which bail distinguished the counsels of the Bourbons, while despotics into an attachment natural in one nation towards another nation, having a similarity of interest in consequence of a similarity of government? Here we see France, simply in consequence of her having become free, naturally seeking alliance with freedom, as her proper security against the neighbouring despotisms, whose interest and strong desire it had now become, to destroy that form of government she had just adopted, and was endeavouring to establish. As far as it was possible to humble herself without surrendering her dignity, we see her giving the ascendant to her ancient rival; making her as it were the arbiter of her destiny; praying her mediation, and giving her carte blanche as to the terms.
It was at that moment the wisdom of France, to make ah other considerations give way to the firin establishment and consolidation of her freedom; and she felt it. This, she must have seen in the light of a work of time; and consequently that a durable alliance with England, was her great external interest. Her leading patriots could not be so ignorant as not to
know, that a nation of slaves are of themselves, and without much aid, and much protection, and much time for learning all their new duties, and acquiring all the habits of their new regimen, extremely unfit, and nearly incapable of becoming a nation of free men.Those patriots could not but know the immense difference there was in that respect, between the people of France, and the people of America. Besides, the revolution which had taken place in France, was in very important points quite dissimilar from that wbich had taken place in America; for in the former, the whole body of the law was totally changed; whereas in the latter, the great solid mass of their institutions, and the whole substance of their common law, remained untouched in essence, and little altered in form.
This was not only known to the men of letters in France, but to many among them who, by serving in America, had a perfect knowledge of facts. They also knew that at no time was America better governed, than when the power of England first expired, and when her several governments, as they had long subsisted, ceased to exist. There, from a knowledge of what belonged to freedom, and the habit of performing its duties, the French statesmen saw that mere temporary committees answered every purpose. They perceived that the people universally knew what was necessary to be done, and what was proper to be avoided ; that they did the one, and shunned the other, just as naturally as the crouds in the streets of a great city flow at the same time in opposite, and in all directions, without confusion or any disposition to do each other inischief. These Frenchmen had seen that the American people bad at the same time made war, and made civil constitutions without disorder or confusion, and without any superintending guardian having been in the smallest degree necessary; although they availed themselves of a treaty with France for military assistance.
It was otherwise in France, and her statesmen at this ume felt the difference. The mass of the French nation having been in want of knowledge, and of habits, peace, and a powerful, protecting guardian were absolutely necessary to preserve their infanı helpless freedom: and wanting these, their liberty has since been lost. But what has not England also lost, and what is now the state of the nation, in consequence of the conduct of Mr. Pitt, when France became our suitor, and in the natural humility of distress, implored our protection?
Politicians do not expect great benefits without paying for them; wherefore, had there been just cause of alarm to any foreign possession of England trom French neighbourhood, every thing our minister could in reason have asked, would doubtless have been gladly conceded; friendly exchanges and other adjustments, beneficial to our dependencies, might have been setiled; and if in order to have given weight to our mediation, we had been put to an expence in arming, liberal equivalents would have been offered; not but that a conduct of generosity and magnanimity, becoming a free nation, interposing on behalf of freedom, would have been the wisest policy. Had at that time the English nation enjoyed a real representation in parliament, such would have been the conduct of her minister.
On the obvious principle that the world is wide enough for the commerce and activity of both nations ; and that it were better, if it were possible, to settle their respective pretensions amicably, and with moderation, than by arms and enmity; an opportunity so favourable for cultivating a friendship with France, for extinguishing jealousies,and for averting war,(if not forever, at least for an age;) would have been in the highest degree coveted by a real statesman of discernment and integrity. He would have gladly embraced the occasion of impressing on the gratitude of that nation and its government, a sense of important obligation. In accepting with one hand the office of mediator, with the other he would have tendered the cordial friendship of England. He would have mediated with a strict regard to justice, and with a frankness and dignity, leaving no doubt of a determination on his part, that his mediation should be respected. He would have revised and renewed the commercial treaty then in existence, and studiously have improved that species of intercourse on such a